Rest day Gondor
So after some of the hardest days on the tour a rest day was well deserved by all. Unfortunately a Bug is spreading its way through the riders at a rapid rate so several people spent the rest day running to the toilet, discussing their toileting habits and trying to sleep off the fever. It's a nasty one and people are surprisingly up beat considering how they look and must feel.
My rest day was not a rest day, as one of the medics on the trip and the only medic not to be chained to the toilet I had a busy day discussing toilet habits and dealing out drugs, restocking rehydrate and paracetamol.
Between treating patients I did manage get out to get my laundry done and this is where my mistakes of the day began. The hotel could not do my laundry as they were overwhelmed by the 60 riders needing clean clothes so I decided to head downtown and find a laundry. I was followed into the laundry by a couple of local youths and as discussing my laundry with the manager the youths kept talking over me in Ahmeric, after counting all my items and then disappearing with them they told me that it would cost 699 Bir, this is an outrageous $69 USD, I argued for a while but did not have much choice now they had disappeared with it. Later on I discussed this with Windy our local guide, and was told that the youths that followed me into the shop were telling the manager to mark the price up and then they get a commission and that it was illegal and I should not even pay 400 bir. He then came back with me to collect it, this turned into a nightmare not worth the 30 usd. They argued and argued in Ahmeric and it drew quite the crowd, I was then told that I would not get my laundry back as I did not have the ticket I was suppose to have (which I didn't, although I'm sure if we were not arguing the price I would be able to get it) Windy then took me back to look for the ticket (which I knew I did not have) and then told me to go back by myself get the laundry, check it and then hand them 400 and walk out! So I took Mark the mechanic with me for some support and this is what I did, wow what a nightmare! There was yelling, hand gestures, and I was trapped in the laundry by two fairly large Ethiopian guys! The driver that drove us down there tried to help us and ended up getting quite ruffed up by the locals, this arguing went on for quite some time, I tried to get out and was roughly pushed back in and grabbed by the guy at the door, Mark stepped in and although Mark was about to lay one into him he held back considering we were largely out numbered. I followed more of windy's advice and said "we go to police"! A police man came over and we headed to the police station, so Mark and myself followed him alone with about 10 of the laundry guys, the police man and the crowd following, we walked for about 10 minutes ending up in a very dark, dingy ally way, both looking at each other feeling very uncomfortable, we were taken through some broken gates which were firmly shut behind us. We were sure we were about to get a beating. We nervously waited for about 15 minutes but this felt forever!! Eventually the boss came out and the discussions (yelling) began, after it going back and forth we eventually offered 500 bir to have this over and done with, we then rushed of as quick as we could.
It certainly left a sour taste in my mouth, I had been ripped off all day, pushed and shoved, scared for my life and quite stressed out! I don't think I will be putting laundry in anymore!
This experience was followed by a few beers with the staff at the Brewery (I certainly needed something to calm me down) This was a awesome experience and helped repair some of the negative feelings I had. We were well looked after receiving free beer for most of the night by some local guys as well as some Ethiopians that actually live in Sydney, Australia (my home town) but were here visiting family. It was a great night! The beer flowed and we had a great time all mingling with the locals and we shut the bar down, being the last to leave including all the staff. We were all invited to a traditional Ethiopian wedding the following day but unfortunately had to work!
So some good some bad experiences but hey this is Africa!
Today was another great day for riders with awesome scenery, paved roads and some hills but defiantly a little tamer than the hills experienced a few days earlier. A welcome village Addis Zemen at the 90km mark today meant that we could experience the best juice I think I have ever had, a layered drink of Mango, Avocado, guava, and paw paw juice! As well as a fantastic coffee and local donuts!